On Tuesday, the National Weather Service announced a winter storm warning is in effect from noon Wednesday to noon Thursday. The winter storm warning replaces a previously announced winter storm watch.
An early-winter storm is possible early Wednesday through Thursday, bringing heavy snow with total snow accumulations of 4 to 8 inches in the lower elevations, with 10 to 14 inches in the mountains. Winds gusting as high as 35 mph could significantly reduce visibility. Forecasters warn that travel could become very difficult through the Thursday morning commute.
Residents urged to prepare for expected early-winter storm Wednesday and Thursday
In preparation for the upcoming winter storm and colder weather, National Weather Service and Wyoming Department of Transportation are encouraging people to build a vehicle winter safety kit and know where to get the latest weather forecasts and road conditions.
“When you travel Wyoming, you can drive long distances without services, so travelers need to be ready to wait out a storm if they become stranded. Having a winter safety kit packed in your vehicle is a must,” said Riverton NWS warning coordination meteorologist Tim Troutman.
A vehicle winter safety kit should include non-perishable food, water, essential medications, blankets, flashlights, and a first aid kit. Troutman said travelers should always dress for winter weather when driving and charge cell phones before departing.
“We have heard too many stories of people wearing shorts and sandals when driving across Wyoming. Those won’t do you much good if you become stranded or are in an accident,” Troutman said.
Even with a winter safety kit packed in the vehicle, Troutman said travelers should be prepared to alter or cancel travel plans if hazardous driving conditions are expected.
“Check the latest weather forecast at weather.gov/riverton or call the Riverton NWS office at 1-800-211-1448 to get the latest forecasts,” said Troutman.
He said NWS offices serving Wyoming also maintain an active social media presence. “We routinely use Facebook and Twitter to share important forecast and current weather and road conditions.”
Travelers are also encouraged to check the latest WYDOT road and travel information by calling 511 or by going online to http://wyoroad.info. The WYDOT smart phone app provides pre-trip and travel information. The app can be used to view the large WYDOT network of web cameras, a color-coded system that shows pavement conditions and traffic hazards, and it can provide traveler location information to friends and family. The app is available for both Android and Apple phones.
“Drivers need to keep their hands on the wheel, phone down and eyes on the road. The Wyoming 511 pre-trip app will give you road conditions and traffic incidents for the route you are traveling, improving traveler safety,” said WYDOT public relations specialist Cody Beers of Riverton.
Beers said motorists share responsibility of protection of life and property. “Give yourself extra time to reach your destination, drive at appropriate speeds to maintain vehicle control, always wear your seat belt, and stay well back from operating snow plows,” Beers said.
Troutman and Beers said their agencies routinely coordinate winter weather impacts and messaging in an effort to provide a consistent message.
“When we share the same message, it usually increases traveler confidence in what conditions to expect,” said Beers. “We want everyone to make the best possible decision when choosing where and when to travel.”